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January 21 2014


Cory Doctorow: Digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful - Boing Boing

Banshee fails gracefully because its authors don't attempt any lock-in. When I find myself diverging from the design philosophy of Banshee to the extent that I want to use a rival system to manage my music, Banshee is designed to assist me in switching. Unlike Apple, Microsoft, and others, who treat you as a product to be bought and sold – and who have engineered laws like the DMCA to make it illegal to convert your files for use with rival products – Banshee is designed to work with me until we part ways, and then to gracefully bow out and let me move on to someone else's version of this particular bit of plumbing. A good example of this is Amazon's MP3 store. Until recently, it worked beautifully. I'd pay a reasonable price for my music, and Amazon would let me download it to my computer with as little fuss as possible. Recently, that changed. Amazon wants to promote its cloud drive services, so now it requires that you lock yourself into an Amazon-proprietary downloader to get your MP3s. The Amazon MP3 store started life with a lot of rhetoric about liberation (they made t-shirts that trumpeted "DRM: Don't Restrict Me!") that contrasted their offering with the locked-in world of the iTunes Store. Now that Amazon has won enough marketshare in the MP3 world, it's using that position to try and gain ground in the world of cloud computing – at the expense of its customers. Lucky for me, MP3 is an open format, so MP3 investments fail well. The fact that I bought hundreds of pounds' worth of music from Amazon doesn't stop me from taking my business elsewhere now that they've decided to treat me as a strategic asset instead of a customer. By contrast, I was once unwise enough to spend thousands on audiobooks from Amazon's Audible subsidiary (the major player in the audiobook world), kidding myself that the DRM wouldn't matter. But the day I switched to Ubuntu, I realised that I was going to have to spend a month running three old Macs around the clock in order to re-record all those audiobooks and get them out of their DRM wrappers. http://boingboing.net/2014/01/20/podcast-digital-failures-are.html

October 26 2013


How Churchill went atomic and currents in science writing: The Guardian Books Podcast

Has the gilt rubbed off the golden age of science writing? And why has an award-winning writer turned his focus from scientific biography to political history? Graham Farmelo, who won the Costa biography award with his life of the quantum genius Paul Dirac, joins us to discuss his book about the "hidden" history of Winston Churchill and the nuclear bomb. He explains why Churchill's role in the history of atomic weapons should not be underestimated, introduces us to some of the eccentrics who briefed him, and tells how the term "atomic bomb" was invented by a novelist years before they even existed. We also hear from Uta Frith, one of the panel judging the Royal Society's Winton prize for science writing, about the books on this year's longlist. And Guardian science writer Ian Sample – a former Winton shortlistee – explains why the last thing he wants to do when he's relaxing is read a book about science. http://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2013/sep/20/churchill-atomic-currents-science-writing-podcast

September 10 2013


Tech & Science Weekly podcast: Untangling the web —€“ relationships, celebrity and privacy

Aleks Krotoski discusses her new book about how the web has turned our social and family lives inside-out, and what it has done to our privacy and our concept of celebrity http://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2013/sep/10/tech-science-podcast-untangling-web

July 25 2013


Guardian Books podcast: Australian writing at the Adelaide festival

This time, we're looking at the world from an Australian perspective. Publisher Michael Heyward introduces us to an ambitious project to republish all of Australia's lost classics, while critic Geordie Williamson regrets the demise of "ozlit". We rediscover the veteran novelist Christopher Koch, author of The Year of Living Dangerously, and meet some of the rising stars in the Antipodean poetry firmament. We take advice from fans of the Adelaide festival as to what books we should be reading, and we go in search of the new Aboriginal literature. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2013/mar/08/australian-writing-adelaide-festival-podcast

April 04 2011


Guardian Focus podcast: The future of Polish football

Six years after writing Behind the Iron Curtain and finding Polish football at all time low, Jonathan Wilson returns to see how preparations for the 2012 European Championships are progressing.

March 20 2011


Tech Weekly podcast at SXSW 2011 | Technology | guardian.co.uk

This week's Guardian technology podcast comes to you from the South by Southwest interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Every year, the geeks descend on this university town in central Texas, and now, on its 18th anniversary, the SXSW event is far bigger than ever. There are 20,000 people here for this show alone, with 25 tracks of content taking place in venues throughout the city, tackling topics as varied as the invisible game layer, the future of journalism, how to take code to the next level, and how to create a personal cult. Mostly, it seems to be about being "awesome" and "how to rock" things, if you go by the titles on the schedule. In this programme Jemima Kiss meets some of the many Brits in town here for business. We find out what really is unique about the web, and we'll get designer, performer and digital joy-maker Ze Frank's views on how SXSW has evolved over the years. Tim Wu reflects on previous revolutions in communications, such as the telephone and radio, and offers some thoughts on the future of the internet and net neutrality. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2011/mar/15/tech-weekly-sxsw-2011-interactive

February 17 2011


Tech Weekly podcast: Nokia's alliance with Microsoft and the Guardian's SXSW hack day

The full details of Nokia's mobile tie-up with Microsoft to use the Windows Phone OS, plus a report from the weekend's Guardian's SXSW hack day. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2011/feb/16/tech-weekly-podcast-nokia-microsoft

November 08 2010


The Guardian and The Web

MARK COLVIN: Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation this week released some figures on the success or otherwise of its experiment in paid online journalism, the project which has put the London Times and Sunday Times behind a paywall. It's being watched around the world by newspapers desperate at the double decline of their sales and advertising revenue. Papers like the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Melbourne Herald Sun, Brisbane Courier Mail and Adelaide Advertiser are expected to go behind a paywall next year. News announced with some fanfare that 100,000 people had paid for its Times and Sunday Times offering. But closer analysis showed that this was the figure for four months, and that in any case only about half those people had actually subscribed. In the opposite camp in London is The Guardian which has promised to stay free online. Its editor, Alan Rusbridger, is giving this year's Andrew Olle Media Lecture for the ABC on November 19th. I asked him first about the Times paywall experiment. ALAN RUSBRIDGER: It looks as though in return for forgoing well over 90 per cent of your circulation, endangering your advertising flow, you end up with 20,000 to 50,000 paying subscribers which leads to a revenue, on their own figures, of about two to five million. I mean all money is useful at this point but I don't see that as the transformative step that everyone is going to follow. MARK COLVIN: But I did read one article which said that that was all happening at a time when they'd just shed about 30,000 print copies. ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well that's the strange thing that no-one really foresaw coming. I mean I thought that if you switched off other, all other forms of getting The Times and Sunday Times digitally that the print sales would go up but it turns out that in fact The Times figures are sliding faster than anybody else in the quality market, which suggests to me that we overlook the degree to which the digital forms of our journalism act as a kind of sort of marketing device for the newspapers. And that if you put a gigantic wall around your content and disappear from the general chatter and conversation about your content then people forget to buy the paper as well. So it's a kind of double whammy. MARK COLVIN: I get the impression, looking at some of their journalists' twitter feeds, for example, that they're quite frustrated at not being part of the conversation, as you call it. ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well I think you would be frustrated. I mean most of us go to journalism to try and reach an audience and to have influence and to be read and if you're aware that people are reading all your rivals but not you in the digital space and I think probably it makes it slightly harder to get stories because people think well why would we give The Times stories when they're so invisible in a digital space? So I think in all kinds of terms it's a rather problematic model. MARK COLVIN: Now I've read you fairly recently saying that your online, your digital income, is actually increasing at quite an impressive rate. What's happening? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well I think digital income is going to increase generally as advertisers realise the power of digital and realise that's where the readers are going. And I think that's not a controversial view. If you listen to Martin Sorrell who heads one of the world's biggest advertising agencies, he predicts a massive shift to digital advertising and so I think that's what's happening. So we're up well over 50 per cent year on year and last year we earned about £40 million from digital revenues. MARK COLVIN: I was just talking to an editor here in Sydney quite recently and I was talking about exactly this and he said yes but where are you going to get a replacement for the big amounts of money that you get for those full page ads, for cars or for department stores or whatever? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Take a step back. The question is whether you believe that print is going to be that resilient. If you do then, you know, then I'm the last person to be saying that you should be bailing out of print but when you look at the, in Britain and American and most of Europe, you look at the slide in circulation, you just have to question the long-term survivability of print. MARK COLVIN: Do you think that you will be producing a Guardian in print in the year 2020 say? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: I've got no idea. I think the forces that are bearing down on the industry at the moment are so unpredictable and extraordinary it's sort of fruitless to speculate and in a sense I don't mind. It's beyond my control. It'll be in the hands of people who are going to invent the digital devices, it'll be in the decisions of readers and my overwhelming aim is just to keep on producing The Guardian in a form which will suit whatever technology people invent. MARK COLVIN: Okay but you say that we're in a sort of five or 10 year transition period. What is your model for getting through that transition? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: The model is to continue producing great journalism, to make it adaptable and sympathetic to whatever technology is there and whatever platform and to have a fantastic, commercial department who will then work out how to monetise it. We have reached a real fork in the road now where, on The Times' figures let's say their subscriber base is now somewhere in the region of 30,000 to 50,000, we can't really be sure, and this month The Guardian will declare a monthly readership of about 37 million. So they're two completely different ideas of size, scale and ambition. MARK COLVIN: And interactivity. Your paper just came top of a list of media organisations around the world in terms of interactivity. How important is that? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well I think it's crucial. If you look at the organisations that are valued the most highly, in financial terms, and which are growing fastest they are the so-called Web 2.0 organisations, either the social media organisations like Facebook, like Twitter. I think it's impossible not to look at those organisations and that technology and say what is it about it that people find so compelling? And I don't think the answer's terribly hard. It's about the fact that people like creating. For 500 years since Gutenberg they couldn't create and now suddenly they have publishing tools on their own, and surprise, surprise they like creating and they like connecting with each other. So it seems to me pretty crucial that newspapers should wake up to that fact and invite people into the process of helping to create this news, this information system, instead of regarding them as passive, as a passive audience. MARK COLVIN: But your newspaper has been for a long time known, among other things, for wonderful writing. I can imagine that you had some people there who didn't really want their writing sullied or didn't really want to enter into a conversation. ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Yes, I mean, you know all cultural change is hard and of course we've had, you know, like any organisation, we've had resisters and we've had early adopters and everything in between. I think journalists have to ask themselves whether they really are the only figures of authority and whether they know more in all circumstances than their readers or whether we can adopt a more, slightly more humble approach and say well, we do know things and we do have certain skills but out there our readers probably know more than we do about certain things or are equally qualified to express views. And so we should create the platforms and the technology and the forums by which they can take part too and my experience is if you do that, you end up with something that is better than if we journalists just try to do it alone. MARK COLVIN: Well that brings onto Wikileaks which is an organisation which in many ways challenges the whole model of traditional journalism. You entered into a kind of alliance with them. What was the thinking process? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well it was just a great story and it was a load of great information and one of our journalists read about the availability of this store of material, the fact that it was out there, and he went and talked to Wikileaks and said, instead of just dumping it on the web and it's such a vast database of information no-one will be able to make sense of it, why don't you work with some news organisations so that we can try and contextualise it, make it sense of it before doing so. And I think actually that worked really well both for Wikileaks, for us and for the general level of understanding of people trying to read it. MARK COLVIN: It did mean that you ended up being associated with an organisation that had named a lot of people who were then subsequently put in danger in Afghanistan. Was that a danger for you? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Well we did different things. Wikileaks had a different policy of what they were going to name and what they weren't. We were fairly tight in what we released and we redacted a lot of material, more than Wikileaks. But I think, I mean in the real world what was going to happen was that all that material was going to be released by Wikileaks anyway and I think the reason that the White House reacted in a fairly sober way, ie. didn't throw the toys out of the pram, was because they appreciated the fact that you'd got three very reputable news organisations who placed all this in context and they were able to say, look are these are field logs. What you're reading here is not history. It's not the truth. It's the raw data that's been released from the field. Some of this may be true; some of it may not be true. So this is how to read the data. And I think that helped contextualise what otherwise could have seemed overwhelming or alarming. MARK COLVIN: So for you Wikileaks, while it challenges traditional journalism, actually ended up validating it? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Yes, I think it did validate us and I think that's really the point I'm trying to make in all of this, that there are skills that journalists have that we shouldn't sell short which are about verifying and about contextualising and analysis. We've had people in Iraq and Iran who know that area very well, who were there during those wars so we can bring out skills to bear on raw data. That's a different job from what some social media do and from what bloggers do and from what sources do. I'm not selling journalism short. I'm just saying journalism can be better if we do it in alliance with others. MARK COLVIN: And you think over this 10 or 15 year transition period, you think that journalism can survive? ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Oh yes. Society needs journalists, society needs verifiable information and it needs ways of communicating with each other and talking about that information and understanding it. So I've got no doubt about journalism surviving but I think the journalist organisations that are best placed to survive it are the ones that are going to go with the technology rather than decrying it and fighting it. MARK COLVIN: Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, who's giving this year's Andrew Olle media lecture on November 19th. You can hear a long version of that interview on our website from this evening.

October 28 2010


Tech Weekly: Google Street View row rolls on, Robert Llewellyn on Carpool

On this week's Tech Weekly, the comedian and presenter Robert Llewellyn joins Aleks Krotoski to talk about Carpool, his hugely popular web chatshow with celebrities, scientists and the general public, set in his car. Tech Crunch's Mike Butcher jumps on board too, giving his insights into the top news stories this week. The trio talk about Google Street View's latest privacy fumbles, as the UK's information commissioner re-opens its case against the mapping service. Allegations around the world suggest that the company collected email addresses, email content and passwords in addition to the photos that make up the 3D representations of cities, inspiring privacy campaigners to call foul. Robert is vocal in his concerns about the source of the £530m earmarked by the coalition government in last week's comprehensive spending review for broadband rollout; the BBC isn't a source for such infrastructure, he says. Mike concurs. And all three are curious about the future of software distribution via Lion OS for Mac, but what will the walled garden mean for consumers? Huffduffed from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2010/oct/26/tech-weekly-google-streetview-audio

October 13 2010


Tech Weekly podcast: Stephen Fry's verdict on Windows Phone 7. Flip Video, 4iP and Google Cars

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2010/oct/12/stephen-fry-windows-phone-7-audio In this week's Guardian technology podcast, Stephen Fry – known for his love of Apple gadgets – gives his take on Microsoft's new smartphone and the wider mobile phone world.

September 28 2010


Tech Weekly podcast: The Social Network — our verdict on the Facebook film

We review The Social Network - an unflattering account of Mark Zuckerberg as he set up Facebook. Or is it? Also as personal details of thousands are leaked online, what could happen to ACS:Law? And our first hands on with the Windows Phone 7 OS. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2010/sep/28/facebook-film-social-network-acs-law

September 24 2010


Will Self and Martin Amis on appearing in their own books

Adam Thirlwell, Will Self and Martin Amis discuss fictional characters bearing their authors' names

August 31 2010


Tech Weekly: What next for online music?

On the eve of the latest iPod launch, will the company be able to maintain its influence as artists and publishers increasingly turn from iTunes to streaming services and music apps? Join Aleks Krotoski, Jemima Kiss and Charles Arthur as they tackle the latest news from the world of technology. On this week's programme, they look at the evolution of the online music scene. Apple launches its new iPod on Wednesday in the face of the lowest quarter of sales since 2006, and the device appears to be in terminal decline. How will it maintain its influence as artists and publishers increasingly turn from iTunes downloads to streaming services such as Spotify and We7 and music apps? Charles exposes the problems inherent in the software patent system in light of the lawsuits served up against companies like Google, Facebook and eBay from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Interval Licensing and the team look at the problems and the benefits of open source for local government. Finally, gamesblogger Keith Stuart speaks with Tim Clark from Firstplay.co.uk about the innovations in marketing and distributing digital content that the games industry has been perfecting in the past few years, and what this could mean for the wider digital media sector. All this plus a healthy dose of opinion – and outtakes – on Tech Weekly. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/audio/2010/aug/31/1

August 24 2010


Sound map: the Caledonian Road

Award winning broadcaster and oral historian Alan Dein walks us down the Caledonian Road, telling the story of the north London street through the voices of the people who live and work on it.

August 04 2010


Tech Weekly podcast: The future of mobile | Technology | guardian.co.uk

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